Over the years, we have had the good fortune to work with some of the best (and, unfortunately, some of the last) small-scale grower-producers in Bordeaux. Our newest addition to this cadre of high caliber growers is Chateau Auney l’Hermitage, representing the region of Graves.
Known as Chateau Le Chec until 2012, when its long-time owners changed the name to Auney l’Hermitage, the estate is run by Sylvie and Christien Auney. They produce two cuvées each of red and white wine, favoring Merlot and Semillon in their respective blends. Graves Blanc and Graves Rouge are the core wines of Auney l’Hermitage, and make up the bulk of its production, while the best parcels are dedicated to their higher-end red and white “Cuvée Cana” bottlings.
Auney l’Hermitage was gradually assembled through the reclamation of ten small domaines totaling 8.5 hectares. Many of these properties were actually clearings in the woods planted to grape vines by small farmers, dating back to the nineteenth century, and were abandoned or on the verge of being abandoned. Christien Auney has chosen to maintain the separation between each of his parcels, meaning that each plot of vines has its own distinct terroir. Some of these plots were ignored for so long that they’ve never seen modern pest management (i.e. pesticides), and as of 2012 the Auneys have undertaken a conversion to certified organic practices.
This is the only estate harvesting manually in the commune of La Brède, which has always been the practice due to the separation of the parcels comprising the estate. Moreover, ripening times for each plot vary widely due to location and vine type, allowing Christien and his team to harvest over a longer period of time.
AOC Graves Blanc: from a 2ha plot, gravel / clay / limestone soil, planted to 65% Semillon, 20% Muscadelle, 15% Sauvignon Blanc. Elevage is done in 4hl barrels for 9 months, and production is about 9500 bottles per vintage.
|AOC Graves Blanc Cuvee Cana: a 1ha parcel of gravel / clay / sand, with 50% Semillon, 35% Sauvignon Blanc, 10% Sauvignon Gris and 5% Muscadelle. It undergoes the same elevage as the basic cuvee, with 9 months in 4hl barrels (25% new). This is not a ‘flashy’ top cuvee – it carries more complexity than the basic cuvee, is very light on its feet, and is a classic expression of the terroir of the Graves district. Production runs around 4000 bottles per vintage.|
|AOC Graves Rouge: a 4ha parcel of gravel / clay / sand, 60% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Cabernet Franc, 5% Malbec. Elevage runs 15 months in a mix of new and old “pieces”, and this is the most important wine of the estate at an average production of 18,000 bottles.|
|AOC Graves Rouge Cuvee Cana: a 1.5ha parcel with 60% Cabernet Sauvignon / 40% Merlot. It sees the same elevage as the basic Graves, with 15 months in barrel (25% new), and production of up to 6000 bottles.|
We have before us this evening a near perfect wine, a classic rendition of the particular terroir that is the Graves. The beauty of this wine crafted by Christian Auney is its subtle tenacity, the rigor of its structure which is truly distinguished.
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